Saturday, July 28, 2007

Painting-a-Day--does size matter?

"Marie's Window", Oil on Panel, 6x6 inches
Jerry Lebo, 2007


You will have seen that the last few paintings I have used for demonstation have all been 6x6 inches. Which seems to be a good format for me. It is square, and thus flexible for both landscapes and still lifes, and not so big that it cannot be painted quickly.


Yesterday I started a 7x9 landscape, which I will post when finished. One thing that I learned in starting a larger painting is that bigger is harder, if not always better. For example, I noticed that in a wider landscape format, composition becomes much more important. I plan to do a posting on composition in the next few weeks--but suffice it to say at this point--bigger requires more thinking about composition.


Another issue when you start to enlarge your painting is that things that did not matter in small paintings--start to stand out. For instance, where a quick stroke may have stood for a shadow or for plane in a small painting, that single stroke may not work anymore in a larger painting. As Scott Christensen says in his DVD, "Ugly and small is one thing, but ugly and big is a another matter altogether".


You will notice that most Painting-a-Day artist tend to keep their painting small. For example, if you look at the paintings of Duane Keiser or Justin Clayton, you will see that most of their daily paintings are 6 inches square or smaller. There is a reason.


So I think one of the lessons to be learned is that there is a lot to be gained by painting many smaller paintings and studies. These smaller paintings both allow you to complete a painting quickly, but also there much to be learned about color and composition by doing smaller paintings. When you move to larger paintings, you will have worked out many of the tonal and color problems--and recorded the key information needed to make the larger painting work. In this regard, I highly recomment Scott Christensen's DVDs. I own them both and have learned a lot from his working process. In the first, he takes a small study and shows you how to develop this into a larger painting. In the second, he takes you through three quick studies.


So that's it for today. Look for another post tomorrow. I am also thinking about posting my daily small paintings for sale. So stay tuned--and keep painting. Sixtyminuteartist

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